Midsummer Madness – London cyclists to greet the solstice dawn

With Britain’s cold, wet spring now a fading memory, we can all look forward to midsummer.

2012 Summer Solstice dawn over Primrose Hill, London (photo: Francis Sedgemore)
Friday 21 June 2013 is the longest day of the year, and since time immemorial people of all faiths and none have marked the occasion of the summer solstice by rising to greet the dawn. London cyclists do this in their own special way, by riding through the night from Greenwich to Primrose Hill, following a tradition established by the late great Barry Mason.

This year’s Midsummer Madness ride will follow a familiar but never entirely predictable pattern, with the early risers setting off from Cutty Sark Gardens in Greenwich at 02:00 on the morning of the solstice. We then stop at Southwark Needle by London Bridge to collect more riders.

Previous years have seen hundreds of London cyclists foregoing their beauty sleep, giddy with excitement at the prospect of experiencing the rise of the midsummer sun. Overcast skies and rain are no deterrent, for Midsummer Madness is a community happening, fun whatever the weather.

  • 02:00 – Set off from Cutty Sark Gardens, SE10 9LW
  • 02:30 – Collect more riders at Southwark Needle, SE1 2SY
  • 03:00 – Stop for coffee and a chat at Bar Italia in Soho
  • 04:30 – Reach the top of Primrose Hill
  • 04:40 – Sunrise!

Following the sunrise some will cycle back across the river for breakfast in a Southwark café, before heading for work or home to sleep. Others will hang around Primrose Hill or do their own thing, with all bidding a fond farewell to friends old and new, promising to return next year for more of the same.

The Midsummer Madness cycle ride is brought to you by the Dog & Bell Crew: an informal collective of southeast London-based social cycle ride planners and members of the London Cycling Campaign. This year’s ride leader is science journalist and fixed-wheel cycling evangelist Francis Sedgemore.

There are no rules other than those of the road, good sense and common courtesy.